If the last two years have taught us anything it’s that marketing needs to be agile. We never quite know what’s around the corner so we need to be ready to adapt and revaluate what is (and isn’t) working. But that shouldn’t stop us planning – mapping out what we want to achieve in the next quarter or year, updating our strategies and keeping a watchful eye on any upcoming trends we want to make the most of.
To help keep you on the front foot, here’s our rundown of four emerging trends we think you’d be wise to keep an eye on…
Human-first data experiences
By human-first data experience, we mean putting your customers first when it comes to utilising data for marketing purposes. With 87 per cent of consumers believing businesses need to provide a more consistent experience, it’s time that brands started deploying customer data to benefit customers. Think about how your CRM data could be used to provide more tailored, valuable content, bespoke offers or better customer support. In 2022, a blanket approach to customer experiences isn’t going to cut it.
The great news is that CRM technology is advancing all the time, offering plentiful opportunities for creating more human, meaningful interactions with customers. Expect to see CRM developers continue to introduce automation tools, more integration opportunities and wider customer data touchpoints in 2022.
There will be a continual focus on making CRM software more user friendly too – whether that’s with voice and conversational user interfaces, improved analytics, or tools useful for wider teams (not just customer-facing ones). All-in-all there will be no excuse but to adopt CRM technology that can really make a difference to how you connect with new and potential customers!
Quality content over quantity
You don’t need to wait for a new year to update your content strategy but there are a few things you’d be wise to keep in mind in 2022.
Over the last couple of years, content marketing savvy brands have focussed on quality of content over quantity. And that’s something we expect to see continue. Churning out content that fails to engage your audience, or worse ends up being misinformed or misleading, will only damage a brand. Investing in quality content that offers value, however, will be key to developing your brand and vital to any inbound marketing strategy. Find out more about how you can create content that’s not only great for your audience, but for search engines too, read Amy’s blog: How to use the E-A-T guidelines to inform your content strategy.
When it comes to social media content, expect to see expiring content (that disappears after it has been viewed or is only available for a certain amount of time) continue to be prevalent and look out for new video content opportunities – Meta (a.k.a Facebook) has said they will “further lean into video” so keep an eye out for Reels and other forms of content becoming more of a focus, whilst the likes of Pinterest will experiment with more AR tools to allow users to visualise products in their homes.
Content marketing winners in 2022 will be those that utilise new, novel forms of content when it’s of good quality, offering genuine value to their audiences, and in line with their brand.
Shaking up online advertising
There are a few online advertising trends and changes you’ll want to keep an eye on:
- Although originally planned for 2022, Google has announced that it will be removing third-party cookies from 2023 – so if you’ve relied on third-party cookie tracking for advertising then you may want to start considering alternative options now. If you’re concerned that your advertising might be affected, check out this useful blog post from Hubspot.
- Google’s Local Service Ads (LSAs) were launched in 2017, but with new services added since then they’re becoming a great option for affordable advertising for local services – think companies that look for local jobs (although look out for this remit to stretch further to include other businesses). LSAs are ideal if you’re unsure about online advertising as they work on a pay-per-lead basis, so you know you’ll be getting results for your budget. We think they’ll be an increasing trend in 2022.
- When it comes to data privacy more widely, all marketers will want to keep an eye on what is happening with first-party cookie tracking, GDPR and the likes of Google Analytics 4 (new Analytics properties that are designed to work with or without cookies). In the UK, there’s an expectation for data regulation to change around cookie tracking once again as the Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden, suggested changes were afoot including “getting rid of “endless” cookie pop-ups” according to the BBC.
- Over the next year, be prepared for your social advertising to experience a shake up too. Apple introduced the App Tracking Transparency feature earlier this year (2021), resulting in Facebook advertisers experiencing dramatic changes in how they can measure the success of their campaigns and target their advertising. In 2022, Facebook will continue to be responding to this change by pushing advertisers to focus on longer campaigns – giving them momentum to gather insights and improve targeting, and thus results. Prepare for this by applying an adequate budget to your campaigns and look at how the creative you use can work over a longer timeframe.
- Some are also predicting that QR codes will be more prevalent in social advertising. QR codes grew in popularity hugely throughout the pandemic but some are predicting this trend will continue with the likes of Facebook encouraging their use in social ads to establish direct attribution.
The rise of social media shopping
It’s been on the increase in recent years but 2022 will see social media shopping continue to grow, with some new features expected to reach a variety of platforms.
In-stream shopping has been a feature of platforms such as Facebook for some time, but new features will make this worth exploring for e-commerce advertisers – such as more shoppable posts and improved product discovery. Many are predicting the likes of Twitter will also be developing its e-commerce offer.
In-stream shopping will also be complemented by live-stream shopping in 2022. A trend that has taken off in China, it’s expected to become more popular worldwide in the next 12 months. If you’re asking what live-stream shopping is, think QV Channel home shopping that was popular in the 90s but online, via a social media live video – often hosted by influencers. Live-stream shopping, if it takes off as a trend, will prove a great option for those looking to up their influencer marketing strategy and to see direct returns and great brand awareness.
Not an e-commerce business? Live-streaming trends might still be applicable to you in 2022, particularly with the likes of LinkedIn expected to tap into it with live-streamed events via their app, offering an easier way to connect professionals globally through events. In fact, hybrid events, which are both online and in-person, are likely to be increasingly popular throughout the year.
More broadly, here’s a rundown of what else we think the next 12 months will bring:
- Continued increases in digital marketing spend. If the last two years have taught brands anything, it’s that digital marketing works and if they want to hold on to results achieved during the pandemic then spend will have to keep apace.
- Marketing automation as the norm for marketing departments. Marketing automation can benefit any size of business, and it’s becoming more and more accessible every year.
- Smart marketers focussing on brand building and brand awareness. A recognisable brand that connects with and offers value to its audience will ultimately stand out over its competitors.
- A genuine demand for brands to demonstrate real sustainability efforts and a dedication to ‘giving back’. More and more consumers want to be able to align their values with the brands they buy from, and know that good is being done as a result of their purchases. When it comes to sustainability, we all know that real action needs to be taken – so consumers will be looking to purchase from brands that are making that a reality.
We have no doubt that many other trends will come to the forefront as the year progresses, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on them. Make sure you join us on LinkedIn where we’ll share what we think marketers should be embracing – and possibly avoiding too!